Walk #3 – Game Farm Park – Auburn

A Writing Experiment with My Phone’s Camera: Inspired by reading Sixty Morning Walks by Andy Fitch, and by the photographic walks of Richard Long


by Debi

(if you missed the first installments:  Walk #1 & Walk #2)


WALK #3 – Game Farm Park
Auburn, Washington
1:00pm to 1:45pm
Sunday – January 18th, 2015

crow and soccer (2)Headed out the door intending to go to a North Auburn park, but the skies in that direction had thick almost black clouds.  South Auburn was sunny, so I picked Game Farm strictly to attempt to stay dry.

Occasional sun breaks.  Funny how people not from the Seattle area aren’t familiar with the term “sun breaks.”  What do they call it?  A quick glimpse of sunshine and blue sky amidst the clouds?  Sun break is so much simpler.  Park is fairly empty.  I’m actually here walking during the Seahawk game.  I know, I know.  How un-Northwest of me.

river (3)A soccer game at the field.  A quiet crow watches me from the grass. Several teenage girls start squealing loudly.  I look and they’re trying to touch a squirrel but every time they get close, they squeal and scare themselves (and the squirrel).

Passing the amphitheater, I remember attending a few church services here on sunny summer Sundays.  Now a garbage can is overturned in the wet grass at the top of the seating area.  A squirrel runs up to me, and stops in front of my feet, staring hopefully into my eyes.  Sorry, no treats today.  He runs up a tree before I can get his photo.  Crows.  A few seagulls.  Several more squirrels.  Sounds of the river, a whistle blowing from the soccer game, a crow.

pathway (2)Choosing to walk by the river.  It’s running high, murky and brown.  The trail is rocky but fairly dry.  Am singing “Eight Days a Week” to myself as I walk. Not aloud.  Just on the speakers in my head.  Has a good, upbeat walking tempo.

Ain’t got nothin’ but love, Babe.  Eight days a week.

S'mores sign (3)Decide to walk on the concrete wall along the grassy area.  See if there’s anyone else walking in the park today.  The three squirrel-squealing girls are trying to find a tree they can climb, but all the trees have branches too high off the ground.  A solitary person in the distance walking on the concrete wall, too.  Can’t tell if they’re heading in my direction or away.  Male or female?  Can’t tell that either.  Almost a shadow person from this distance.

boulders (2)A sign in the storage area catches my eye.  It points to the left and says, “S’mores.”  Why aren’t there ever S’mores when I’m at the park?  For that matter, why is there an official park sign pointing to S’mores?  Hm.  Maybe it’s for that campfire evening of ghost stories that happened around Halloween. My neighbor told me about it.  I think it took place at Game Farm Wilderness Park, though.  Maybe both parks share the same storage area for their signage.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Reached the top of the hill, the clouds parted, and I was standing in sunshine.  For a moment.  A brief bit of blue. A shiny speck of sun.

ominous clouds (3)I sit on a boulder for a moment and remember my kids playing on this hill on a hot summer day.  Must have been a Kids’ Day many years ago.  There were large blocks of ice and the kids were all sledding down the grassy hillside on blocks of ice.  It was a great way to cool off.  The hill seemed so big for my little ones back then.  Now it looks so small.  Seems to be a recurring theme on these walks.  Big hills in memory become small hills when viewed from today.

closer sun circle (4)Dark clouds coming this way.  Ominous.  Not sure how quickly the clouds are moving.  Wonder if I’ll get wet today?  Stop by the Sun Circle sculpture.  So many of our family photos were taken with my kiddos sitting in the middle of this.  Sunny days, cloudy days, spring days, fall days, summer days.  And now today no kids.  Just a cold and empty sculpture.

no pets on fields (3)NO PETS allowed on the fields.  Okay.  I’ll leave my cats and bunnies at home.

Oops.  The rain’s starting.  Close my eyes briefly while I pull on my hood.  Open my eyes to see hail falling all around me.  Heavier and heavier, bouncing off the grass and concrete path.  Bouncing off my hood.  Now getting bigger and falling harder, it stings when it hits my hood, my jacket, my hands, my face.

hail downpour (2)An older gentlemen took cover over by the restrooms.  I run to join him while we laugh about how quickly the hail sprang up.  “I totally didn’t expect that!  Didn’t even see it comin’!” he says.  “BOOM!” the thunder says.  We look at each other and laugh at the weather falling hard around us.

Three young girls come running toward our shelter.  One skips past saying, “This is so cool!  It’s so fun!  I can’t feel my face, it’s so cold!”  The second runs by, “Omigosh, it’s COLD!”  And then the third, lagging behind, saying quietly, “I want my mommy.”  “BOOM!” says the thunder.  “I don’t wanna die!” screams that frightened third child.  She ducks under the eaves with her two friends, the older gentleman, and myself.  The timid one looks at the faces of the rest of us, sees we’re not afraid, and then nervously tries to join in our laughter.

trees in the rain (2)Two men run past in the hailstorm with two white puppies running behind them.  Everyone’s laughing.

The hail dies off.  The rain subsides.  We all smile at each other, and disband our little makeshift group as we head back out from under the shelter of the restroom doorway.  The girls find puddles to splash in.  I find puddles to photograph.

rock wall (2)The older gentlemen decides to go home and watch the rest of the football game.  “They were behind 16 to nothing, so I’d decided to go for a walk in the park,” he told me.

Heading back toward the car, I notice new playground equipment from when my kiddos were little.  I like the new rock wall.  I try to duck underneath the slide when another rainstorm hits suddenly.  This shelter isn’t working for me, though.

play area border (4)I keep walking.  Now I know for a fact that my raincoat is only water-resistant and not water-proof.  By the time I reach the car, there isn’t a dry inch anywhere on my body.  Hailstorm rain is soooooooo cold.  I feel like a walking wet ice woman.

My phone/camera is getting wet even though it’s hiding in the sleeve of my coat.  The lens is fogging.

girls in rain (2)This walk is over.

Now I can’t even see through the water drops on my glasses and there isn’t a dry bit of material anywhere to wipe the lenses.  Crazy rain.  Pass the girls once more.  Now they’re all splashing and playing.  The fear of imminent death must have left the timid one.

Time to head home to a warm bowl of soup, a nice hot shower, some lens cleaner (for my camera and my glasses), and some nice DRY CLOTHES!


Up Next:  Walk #4 – Isaac Evans Park


Writing Experiment: The Walks

by Debi

I think I’m finally semi-happy with my latest “experiments” for one of my classes this quarter: A daily walk through local parks taking photos as I go, inspired by Sixty Morning Walks by Andy Fitch and photographic walks taken by sculptor/photographer Richard Long.

My contraints for this current experiment have been:

  1. I must walk in a different park within the Auburn city limits each time
  2. I must document the course of the walk with photos (ideally with semi-appealing photos)
  3. I can only take photos with my cell phone’s camera (and it’s a super crappy camera so this is a HUGE constraint!)
  4. I need to walk for at least half an hour (but no longer than an hour)
  5. I need to pay close attention during my walk and try to remember what I saw, felt, heard, thought … and then to write about it after returning home
  6. Post it on my blog with text and photos

On the first day’s walk, I took too many photos in general, and also too many photos that all ended up looking the same. Trees and the river. Bushes and the river. Trees and a pond.

So the 2nd day I tried to limit myself more to things I thought were unique and interesting (in almost an architectural sense). Forms, lines, sculpture-ish things.

I also realized after fiddling around for awhile, that I prefer the photos from the walks to be in black-and-white rather than color. Adds to the sculptural feeling a little bit, I think.

And surprisingly, I find it’s really difficult for me to write in sentence fragments.  My original plan was to make lists and write simple phrases.  Things ended up wordier than I’d planned. Also, I hadn’t realized how reflective I’d end up being about earlier days at these same places with my kiddos.  A modern day series of walks became a semi-memoir.

Looking forward to being able to ask questions of Andy Fitch on Tuesday night about his process writing Sixty Morning Walks.  He’ll be coming into our class to talk about his books and his writing.  Before I had actually tried doing my own “walks” and writing about them, I didn’t realize I would have any questions for him.  Now I have so many, it’ll be difficult to know where to start.

Not sure how many walks I’m going to do.  The original plan was Week of Walks, but the whole process has ended up being more time-consuming than I’d originally planned for, and I still have other homework that needs to be done.  Oh, and I have a life, too.  I don’t just study and walk.  🙂